There’s a message going around social media that God accepts us as we are. And that message is 100% true! But the part no one ever talks about is that God doesn’t accept our mess; He cleans it up.
The message that God accepts us as we are sounds lovely and that’s why it’s popular. But we cannot forget the other part of that message: that Jesus cleans us up. He doesn’t leave us in our mess.
What’s your testimony? It should reflect who you once were and how God rescued you from sin. If our testimony is only that God accepts us as we are, what’s our boast? There’s a process of transformation that God takes us through once we are saved.
Today, we’ll talk about:
*Why the popular message that God accepts our imperfections is not wrong but incomplete.
*What is the real testimony?
*God takes us through the sanctification process after salvation.
*The emergent church movement.
“The testimony is not that God accepted your mess, but that He cleaned it up.”
“The beauty of the cross is that God accepted your mess. The message of the cross is that He cleaned it up.”
Blog: This is How We Overcome
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Hello my friend, and welcome back. You are listening to episode 3 and today we are talking about a trend going around social media AND women’s ministries that I really want to talk about and dive into today.
*If you tuned in to episode 2, you heard all about what I think influence is and what it looks like. I will forever preach that our lives are the only tool we need to influence others. And today, we’re going to talk about a very popular way women are influencing other women these days that has a conflicting message with what the gospel of Christ truly is.
*I’ll explain as we move along, so stay with me.
*I was doing a LIVE interview in a friend’s Facebook group yesterday and she asked me this question: “I feel like we are constantly bombarded with messaging about who we should be as Christians or what’s wrong with us as Christians. But you are fun. You are real. You aren’t this uptight boring person that I think people often think of when they think of a serious Christian. Yet, you do hold true to the Word. How do you walk that line? How do you balance human imperfection and how did you learn to give yourself grace?”
*I have so much to say about this because I believe there is a balance in the message we send as Christians AND there’s a balance to how we inspire others and get them to come to Christ with our message.
*Here’s what I mean:
*First, a big message we see out there in the world these days is that God accepts our imperfections. Women will tell you, “If you aren’t perfect, that’s ok. God knows. Be you.”
Or … “You can be exactly who you are, whoever that is, because you are exactly who God intended you to be.”
*O’kay, I can go on, but I won’t. And today, I want you to be aware of the danger in this message.
*It’s not that the message is wrong. It’s that the message isn’t complete. Is it true that God accepts who we are? Absolutely, but don’t take my word for it.
*1 Timothy 1:15 says, “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance, Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst.”
*We know Jesus came and died for the sinners. John 3:16 confirms this and is one of the first verses we memorize in Sunday school or as Christians.
*But, what we must remember is that God does not stop there. After salvation, God begins to work in us. I have several verses that prove God does not just accept our mess, but He also cleans it up.
*First, we have to remember where the real testimony is here. Rev 12:11a says, “They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.
*Do you know what a testimony actually is? It’s “a public recounting of a religious conversion or experience.”
*If our testimony is that God accepts us as we are, what are we celebrating? The fact that I am accepted by God?
*Our testimony is not that God accepts us the way we are. It’s that He rescued us in our mess and cleaned us up. That is why while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Why did He do that? Because in the state of sin we were lost. He found us as sinners, but grace does not and cannot leave us there.
*All too often, the message on social media is that God will accept us the way we are: imperfections and all. But where is the desire to get out of the mess? Most of the time, we tell these women it’s ok to be who they are, but the problem is they don’t want to be who they are. They want a life change … an attitude change …. A soul change.
*That can only be done in Christ.
*Second, after salvation God takes us through something called the sanctification process. This is the part where God begins to transform our lives and change our attitudes, our thoughts and our perspective.
*The good news is that we are not responsible for this change. And we cannot change on our own. It has to be God and that is through sanctification.
*Phil 1:6 says, “Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ.”
*This tells us two things: Christ begins the work and He continues to work until He completes the work in us. That is the process of sanctification from salvation to the day we go home to be with the Lord.
*It also tells us we are the work of God. That He doesn’t leave us as He found us.
*The sanctification process is a complete contradiction that it is OK to continue as we are or as Christ found us. We should desire that God works in us to perfect us.
*Let me give you an example: Christians who think it’s OK and acceptable by God to do things that go against His word are in fact sinning and are not yielding to the sanctification process.
*The sanctification process makes us aware of our sin by the conviction of the Holy Spirit. And this does not always feel good. That’s why it’s not a popular message and people don’t want to preach it.
*It’s always an appealing message to tell people God accepts them in their mess. But we must remember the rest of that message. We must remember the true testimony is in the fact that God cleaned up our mess and took us from a life that missed the mark to an abundant life because of Christ.
*The process of sanctification will be uncomfortable at times. Paul talked about this struggle in Romans when he said, “The things I don’t want to do, I do, and the things I do, I hate. Oh, wretched man that I am.”
*When God shows us our shortcomings, we can feel like a failure at times. But remember, that’s an opportunity to allow God to transform us and make us into His image. That’s how He perfects us in the process of sanctification.
*Finally, we must be aware of the emergent church movement. In an nutshell, the emergent church movement is about feelings over truth. It started to rear its ugly head in the 90’s and has made its way into the 21st century in full force.
*The emergent church does not want to offend others.
*Hey! I totally get it. I don’t want to offend others either. But God’s word can be offensive. 1 Corinthians 1:23 says, “but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and an offense to Gentiles”.
*I remember a pastor who once said that when we hear a preacher preach a message from the Lord, in some ways it should make us feel uncomfortable because any sort of change or growth causes discomfort. But in the end, the word of God is supposed to cause change and growth. It can offend. It will offend. But it will also change us into the people God designed us to be. Without sanctification, we will not change.
*I want to recap this message because I feel it’s important no one misunderstands what I am trying to say.
*The message that God accepts us as sinners is absolutely true. Because that’s what we are.
*But I am telling you we have to be careful with this popular message because that’s only half of it. Actually, it’s more like the beginning of the message and theres much more to it that we never hear.
*God doesn’t leave us in our sin. Sanctification is a natural process of having a relationship with God once the Holy Spirit takes up residence in our lives. So, fasten your seatbelt and get ready for the amazing transformation God is going to accomplish in you.
*And you know what? You will change … you’ll have a transformed life, transformed thinking, transformed Friday night, a transformed mouth. This is the beauty of our testimony.
*Again, the beauty of the cross is that God accepts our mess. The purpose of the cross is that He cleans it up.
*So, going back to the beginning of this episode, I told you my friend asked me how I can be real and still hold true to God’s word. How can I balance showing others my imperfections while at the same time allowing them to see God transform my life?
*Here’s what I’ve learned: It’s not about me. It’s not about what I do well or how well others like my message. It’s about one thing and one thing only: lifting up the name of Jesus.
*When I let people in to what God is doing in my life, it lifts Him up. I can’t clean up my mess without Him. And the good that I do, it’s only because He equips me.
*The message I speak is the message He puts in my heart.
*So, I let you in. I let you see what He’s done for me and let you know that I am a work in progress. I don’t want to be what I am today. And I am thankful I’m not who I was yesterday. And tomorrow, on this journey with Him, I’ll only be one step closer to the Shanda He thought of when He created me.
*I am happy and pleased to let you see the mess He’s cleaned up and the mess He’s working on in my life.
*Because that is how I overcome. And that is how you have hope that you, too, can overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of your testimony.
*The journey is not always easy. It’s not always pretty. But God is not going to leave you in your mess, my friend.
*And that is the power of the cross!!
**That’s it for today’s episode. If you have any questions and want to email them to me, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. I will answer back and I may even make one of them a show topic and dedicate it to you.
*I’ll see you next week with a brand new episode which is also one of my favorite topics: Is the Bible relevant today? Oh, goodness! Saddle up! It’s going to be a wild ride.